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The confined safety of Pretoria

Pretoria was fun. Strange, odd and like I remembered. We raced to leave Lydia, our car, at the airport, and piled our tents, sleeping bags and grocery bags into Therese's car, who had kindly offered to pick us up. She's an old friend from my early days in London, and I see her fairly irregularly every three or four years. And she's lovely- we basically had her car, house and friends at our disposal for two days.

And we had a nice time. We saw a fair share of gay bars, clubs and various other establishments, and met lots of people whose names I cannot pronounce or even write as they involve far too many harsh Afrikaans h-like sounds. (Really, it is the most unromantic language in the universe.)

Terese and friends

Terese and friends

Pretoria is a tad safer than it's neighbouring Jo'burg, and prettier. The jacarandas were in full bloom, which meant that every street was lined with a lovely purple haze of tiny flowers. But the reality's a bit more blemished. As we drove down, Therese said that she chose her current car for safety reasons- it only has two doors, which makes it harder for carjackers to get in. She was absolutely shocked that we'd walked to a nearby supermarket. It was about three blocks, in daylight and in a good area. I ended up spending so much time in a car and in sanitised shopping centres (where there's good security and gates and alarms) that I don't particularly want to see another shopping centre for a good while. I didn't feel unsafe at any stage, but the warnings from everyone made me think twice before walking down anywhere again. And altough a pretty town, I don't think I could ever live in a place where I have bars in my windows, an electric fence and a full-time security guard. Naive, maybe, but I never locked my house when I lived in a Zambian compound, despite the fact that pretty much everyone knew I had a nice camera and other luxury items. I need to trust people, just sometimes.

Jacarandas in Pretoria

Jacarandas in Pretoria

Pretoria street scene

Pretoria street scene

Posted by Ofelia 07:56 Archived in South Africa Tagged backpacking

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